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St. Pete: Rays could leave by 2020 for $33M

Tampa Bay RaysThe St. Petersburg City Council laid out a path for the Tampa Bay Rays to leave Tropicana Field in 2020 for upwards of $33 million, but it’s not clear whether team owners will take the proposal seriously.

In a 5-to-3 vote, a Rays lease buyout plan from Council member Jim Kennedy was approved. The plan would set up a structure for how much the Rays would pay under different scenarios, including up to $4 million for each year remaining in the Tropicana Field lease and different development fees (nothing for a new St. Pete ballpark, $2.5 million for a new ballpark elsewhere in Pinellas County and $5 million for a Hillsborough County ballpark) depending on the ballpark location. In addition, the team would pay toward demolition of Tropicana Field lease.

It is a step forward, and the first time since last spring the St. Petersburg City Council has addressed the issue of the Rays and their future in the city. But it’s debatable whether it’s a full step forward or just a small movement that won’t really change anything. Mayor Rick Kriseman wasn’t optimistic the Rays would show any movement in this plan; it’s double the $16 million the team already agreed to when Kriseman last negotiated with Rays owners earlier this year. From the St. Petersburg Tribune:

Kriseman told the council he would take the proposal to the Rays, but warned that the team has said it would not pay any more money.

“Typically, as time passes deals don’t get better,” Kriseman said.

The mayor said making proposals is “the easy part,” and that it took a year for him to reach his previous agreement with the Rays.

RELATED STORIES: Sternberg: Rays still believe in Tampa Bay; Sternberg: Rays ballpark search will proceed; Rays, St. Pete continue ballpark relocation talks; Most county-board candidates indicate support for new Rays ballpark in Tampa; Time running out on key Rays funding component; New year, new day for new Rays ballpark?; Foster: MLB looking for reason to flee Tampa Bay; Residents: Let Rays buy out Trop lease, move to Tampa; Selig: No updates on Rays ballpark situation; Rays: We won’t buy out Trop lease on St. Pete’s terms; St. Pete mayor: Talks with Rays going poorly; Poll: little support for public funding of new Rays ballpark

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